Mmmm, whoops. I forgot to write something up for Terry Tuesday last week (I was in a bit of a fog in my defense).
We’re back to the Witches! Huzzah! This is another one that I love dearly, and Granny, of course, plays a central role in this one.
Sometimes Pratchett leans in on a trope, and other times he takes a hard left turn. The elves in this book are not the typical elves you see in other worlds. Stereotypically, elves tend to be one with nature, generally more docile, often times intellectuals and more often than not, peaceful. These elves are something else entirely, and they’re dangerous.
“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.”
There are parallel worlds to the Discworld – in fact there are many thousands of them. Everything that “could be” has happened or will happen on one of these parallel planes. There are tens of thousands of Esme Weatherwax’s throughout the multi-verse, and Esme is starting to get visions of her other selves – but she doesn’t know that at first. She knows something is going on, something isn’t quite right. Her feelings of foreboding were confirmed when she finds out there’s a new “coven” of witches in the Lancre area, a coven of younger and more naive witches that think they know it all despite never having been trained. They’ve taken to dancing naked around the “Dancers”, a set of stones in a circle in an area that’s supposed to be forbidden. There are certain areas where the boundaries between the worlds become thinner and easier to break through – and it’s these areas that are supposed to be avoided lest you fall for one of the elves tricks.
Elves love to play mind games, skilled at creating glamours, they’re quick to set you at ease when you should be on your toes. They appear to be beautiful, but in fact, they are hideous creatures. The younger witches are playing a precarious game trying to temp the Elf Queen into showing herself. Even Magrat thinks that Esme is taking things too seriously, preferring to believe in the fairy tales.
Despite warnings, Diamanda continues to visit the Dancers and gets sucked into the elven world, she manages to escape with Granny’s help – but the elves and unicorns follow them back out.
Meanwhile, Nanny is being swept away in an unexpected romance where she actually has someone “courting” her rather than just a roll in the hay. It’s actually really adorable and I fully ship these two – Casununda is a dwarf with an explosively flirtatious personality. These two together made for amazing dialogue.
Granny has her own romance in this as well, which is probably one of my favorite parts of the book. It’s a blast from the past for Granny, it’s not a romance that starts in this book, it’s more about loose ends getting tied up. I love when we get to see into Granny’s past to get to know who she was before she became the bedrock of Lancre. The romance here was lightly done, which is how I like it, but also pretty moving as well. I never would have thought that these two people would have been involved with each other, but I loved it. (I’ll leave out his name because it’s surprising and funny who it is)
Magrat finally came out of her shell! She started kicking ass and taking names in this book which is just so satisfying. She has had a pretty wishy-washy and push-over type personality before this book – but in this one, we get to see her put on armor and kick some ass. More, please.
“In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the
cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat
could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.”
“I don’t hold with paddlin’ with the occult,” said Granny firmly. “Once you start paddlin’ with the occult you start believing in spirits, and when you start believing in spirits you start believing in demons, and then before you know where you are you’re believing in gods. And then you’re in trouble.”
“But all them things exist,” said Nanny Ogg.
“That’s no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages ’em.”
“If you really want to upset a witch, do her a favor which she has no means of repaying. The unfulfilled obligation will nag at her like a hangnail.”
“You call yourself some kind of goddess and you know nothing, madam, nothing. What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you.”
- Plot: 13.5/15
- Characters: 15/15
- World Building: 15/15
- Writing: 14/15
- Pacing: 13/15
- Originality: 14/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Final Score: 94/100 – 5 stars highly recommended